Dueling Connecticut Rallies Test Support For Abortion Rights | Connecticut Public Radio

Dueling Connecticut Rallies Test Support For Abortion Rights

May 21, 2019

The passage of legislation in several states that effectively bans abortion sparked nationwide protests Tuesday, including in Hartford. But the steps of the state capitol also hosted a counter-protest, objecting to a bill in the Connecticut legislature which would place new restrictions on so-called crisis pregnancy centers.

“Our bodies, our rights — abortion is a human right," was the chant from hundreds of protesters at an event on the north steps of the capitol, styled #stopthebans.

Catherine LaFlorza was just a little girl when the passage of Roe v. Wade granted abortion access to everyone— and now at 57 years old, she’s angry at what’s happening today.

“Women need the autonomy to make decisions about their body without exception, and to watch us being driven back in time to when women had less rights is enraging.”

LaFlorza stood with protesters who say threats to abortion access in other states — like Georgia, Alabama and Missouri -- is a threat to access everywhere. Connecticut has strong legal protections for abortion and reproductive care, but people at the rally said women everywhere deserve those same protections.

Mike Carroll was among the handful of men at the rally — he was there to stand up for anyone who might be affected, whether he personally knows them or not.

Credit Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

“We all need to pull our weight, we all need to stand up, not just because they’re someone’s sisters or wives, but because they’re people,” he said.

Gov. Ned Lamont spoke at the event — he urged businesses in states with abortion bans to relocate to states that “supports the rights of women.” He and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz this week issued an open letter to women-owned businesses in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, urging them to consider a move to the Nutmeg state.

"As a staunch supporter of women’s rights, we are appalled at these actions that erode the ability of women to make informed decisions about their health and bodies," the two said in their letter.

Leslie White (center), of New Britain, locked arms with others at a rally in Hartford Tues., May 21, as they protested against abortion bans in other states.
Credit Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

But not everyone at the capitol Tuesday was there to condemn the push for stricter limits on abortion.  A pro-life gathering convened just around the corner of the building from the #stopthebans rally.

Protesters here were in direct opposition to a bill that recently was passed by the state House of Representatives – a law to stop limited service pregnancy centers from using deceptive advertising tactics.

A group called NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut told Connecticut Public Radio last year that it received reports from patients that a local women’s center had intercepted them as they were heading to a nearby abortion clinic and told them the appointment was actually with them.

Stories like that became the basis for a municipal ordinance in Hartford restricting the activities of crisis pregnancy centers, and they're behind the move to pass a similar statewide law.

But protester Christina Bennett disputes them.

“There is not one single woman who has been served from a pregnancy resource center in 30 years who has made a complaint with the better business bureau, with the police, with any social service organizations," she said. "There is not one single woman in 30 years who has made a complaint to the capital or the legislative office building of being misled or deceived by a pregnancy resource center.”

Protesters against a bill in the Connecticut legislature which would place new restrictions on so-called crisis pregnancy centers gathered at the state Capitol in Hartford on Tuesday.
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Bennett works at a local non-profit that supports pro-life policies. She works there because she said her mother scheduled an abortion back in 1981 — but didn’t go through with it.

“Everything I do is the result of that because without that decision, I wouldn’t be alive,” she said. 

If the Connecticut law passes, Bennett said that local pro-life organizations will sue the state.